This is what I learned at NY EDTech, and it was great

This week my wife and I went to the NY EDTech 2017 conference held at my alma mater NYU.   Below are some of my notes from the opening morning show.

If you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t heard, EDTech has been  a booming billion dollar industry for about a decade now.  I’m happy to say that New York University, and New York City in general, have been at the forefront of this innovation.  

But there are problems.

Most of the companies in EDTech focus on the use of technology to replace the human element in teaching with computers and apps interfacing with students.   While this can create a personalized learning experience and provide valuable, measurable data,

What is the most powerful thing to teach all children?

The most powerful thing to teach all children

We parents care deeply about giving our children the best chances possible.  But we share similar fears:  What if they get in with the wrong crowd?  What if they are not as resilient as we wish?  What if they lose their confidence and their way?

As long as our kids are self empowered, find their purpose, voice and happiness, we have done our jobs as parents.

In the future, when artificial intelligence and robots eliminate many current jobs, what skills are ones machines cannot replace?

I believe it’s creativity combined with curiosity and passion that make us undeniably human.  It’s the unexpected spark of joy that comes when combining disparate unrelated ideas to make something new and familiar at the same time that helps solve a problem.

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We believe in music and you do too.

Rapport and How To Teach A Student Who Doesn’t Look Like You

The power of teacher student rapport especially when students are of different race

“I’m black so my teacher needs to be black.”

Nobody said this, yet.  

But, a study has found a correlation between the performance achievement of black children and whether or not they had a black teacher.  The results seem to suggest that black children would fare better if taught by a teacher that looks more like them.  

“There’s mounting evidence that when black students have black teachers, those students are more likely to graduate high school. That new study takes this idea even further, providing insight into the way students actually think and feel about the teachers who look like them and those who don’t.”  Read more at

While still not conclusive,

A surprising way for music teachers to be the best they can be

Music teachers can access their best self in a surprising way

Vacations are just to get away from myself.

Music Teachers Need Vacations Too

I love to travel and explore new places, but I’ve begun to notice something: each time I go away, I gain something.  It’s not just the usual rest, relaxation, and renewal.  That’s vitally important,  but it’s beyond that.  I gain some mental space,  I can think clearer, see my best options, and make better decisions.


But it doesn’t have to be a big trip.  


Coffee shops, libraries, and hotel lobbies are some of my favorite places to write, plan, and get work done.  Why?  I started wondering about this.  Is it just the beautiful furniture?  

A first lesson on piano

Sadie plays piano at age 4 using the Musicolor Method™

Within three minutes of a first lesson, our beginning students learn a song.  The song is really an exercise in disguise to get them using all ten fingers assigned to a five finger position.  We also use fun words personalized to their tastes.

For some, this is Peanut Butter Sandwich, and some apple juice.

Other kids have chosen other 5 or 6 syllable phrases like:

  • “I like bacon ice cream, and some water too.”
  • “Strawberry ice cream, and some sprinkles please.”
  • “Pepperoni pizza and some lemonade.”
  • “Tuna Fish Sandwich and a glass of milk.”
  • “Creme Brulee Ice Cream, and some sprinkles too” – I kid you not!

You will notice that we don’t worry too much about curvature of the fingers at first.  

Surprising Secrets From A Grammy Award-Winning Arranger

Surprising Secrets From A Grammy Award-Winning Arranger An Interview With Jazz Arranger Gil Goldstein

Surprising secrets emerge in conversation with jazz legend Gil Goldstein on music education, color and music, polyrhythms and more.

A few years ago, I met a man walking his two little dogs.  We got to talking and he told me his name was Gil.  He was a musician.  Hey, me too!   

Over time, I began to get a bit more information.  Apparently, he was pretty well known in jazz circles!  One day, I almost bumped into Bobby McFerrin as they walked together.  Gil was producing Bobby’s latest project.  

Later, I’m watching the Grammy Awards live on television and Best New Artist award goes to Esperanza Spalding.  A jazz artist!  The first ever to ever win this award!  

Can we redesign music education?

Can we redesign music education?

What if we could redesign music education?

A designer’s goal is to make experiences simple, intuitive and accessible.  It’s all about creating an effective user experience. In many first lessons, teachers start with a symbolic language of staff, treble clef, whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, etc.  The sheer amount of information is so great that most cannot make this leap.

This is from a teacher’s point of view, not a student-centered view.

Student Experience Design

Today, I want to share some simple ways to apply design thinking in your studio and classroom.  

I propose we call it “student experience” (SX) design and “student interface”(SI) design.  

How To Be A Better Music Teacher Part 3

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So in my last two posts, we’ve discussed some ideas for becoming a better music teacher.

In the first, we talked about focus and rejuvenation.
And last time, we talked about structure.

Today, we’ll talk about evaluating the structure and quality of a curriculum.

Remember, we defined the curriculum as your plan of teaching.

These days, if you can’t figure something out, you just go and “YouTube it.”   There’s so much free content out in the world that you can learn to do pretty much anything.

  • How to tie a necktie.
  • Create a new look with makeup.
  • Speak with a Bronx,